Tall Fescue Grass: What You Need To Know About The Most Common Lawn Grass In California

Tall Fescue GrassTall fescue grass is a cool season grass native to Europe. It is commonly found throughout the transitional zone of the USA.

It is a type of grass that occupies 1.5% of all land area in the USA (35,000,000 acres). This fact is impressive considering it was not introduced until the 1940s.

It forms deep roots making it more traffic tolerant than other fescues. As its name suggests it should be mowed high and infrequent.

Tall Fescue Grass Features

Growing season. Cool season/transitional season grass that grows fast in the spring and fall.

Shade tolerance. Moderate/high shade tolerance.

Sun requirement. Needs 4 – 6+ hours but grows with only moderate sun so long as mowed to correct height of 2 inches or higher.

Drought tolerance. Highly drought resistant. Prefers dry clay soil.

Foot traffic tolerance. Moderate/high traffic tolerance. Deep root make it much more tolerant than other fescue grass.

Maintenance needs. Low maintenance in transitional zone. Requires seasonal fertilizer. Requires mowing. Moderate/high maintenance because of watering needs in southern states.

Disease tolerance. Fairly tolerant of disease but is prone to pest problems. Products should be used at first evidence of problem.

Tall Fescue Grass Lawn Mowing

Mowing height. Must be left longer than other grasses to ensure enough sun absorption through its leaf. This limits its use to golf faraway roughs, lawns and pastures. A minimum height 1.5 – 3 inches is recommended.

Recommended lawn mower. Adjustable height mowers are recommended. The best reel mowers always offer a great cut.

Sources and Further Reading

1. Tall Fescue by Richard L. Duble, Turfgrass Specialist at the Texas A & M AgriLife Extension was read and read again while taking notes on the characteristics of tall fescue grass.

2. Above I mentioned a factoid about tall fescue being the most common lawn grass in California. That factoid was found on the University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources page on tall fescue.

3. American Lawns.com page on tall fescue had some great information on the advantages and disadvantages of tall fescue.

4. Tall fescue Wikipedia page was used as an initial reference page when researching this article.

About your guide: Jamey Kramar is a certified Lawn Care Manager (NALP) and a Mechanical Engineer by trade. He has been writing about outdoor power equipment for 11 years and has been quoted in NYTimes, Popular Mechanics, HowStuffWorks, iFixit, Realtor.com, and more. He spends his spare time disassembling things and also building an off-grid cabin at his 200-acre property.